Updated: Nov 7
Sharing with the world that I am trans and nonbinary forced me to unpack the internalized fears I held about myself. I found that unpacking wasn't enough. It's really like hearing a kitten meow at the bottom of a dark hole, running to the edge to save it and realizing you have to climb your whole body into a place you aren't sure what's in there with it. And is it really a kitten? You know something else is there too. Unpacking is a cleaner way of really saying I need to dump out the entire backpack in front of myself and safe people to get an honest look at my shit.
I have immersed myself in supporting others to detangle their internalized fear of LGTBQIA identity. Becoming who we are means transmuting our energy into someone who brings light, empathy, joy, love and space to move. We're all human and we're built to move yet...why does it feel so hard sometimes?
When my daughter was 4 years old, I was sitting with her in the bathroom at a Hanna Andersson. Singing to herself one moment and in the next sharing with me about how she sees herself fitting into this world that cracked me open and knocked me over. The clarity she had about what lived inside her versus what she saw on the outside of her was tremendous.
I saw love in action.
And what I know of love and authenticity is that it isn't something you coerce into someone. Love and authenticity exist to push out anything that isn't true. It's just how it works. The debate that trans and nonbinary kids don't know what they're talking about is ridiculous for so many reasons. Have you ever tried to get a toddler to eat something they don't want to eat? It can be impossible. So why do people believe that gender identity is something a parent could force on a child?
We change in the presence of someone else. Research has proven humans literally emit light in pure darkness. We are electricity. Wired for connections, our nervous systems reveal and adapt. The nervous system is an internal alarm system...an evolutionary gift. It will tell you many things if you learn its unique language if you dare to go back to your beginning and a bit before that too. My daughter's emergence into this world facilitated a part of my own coming out as trans and nonbinary. Kids can be so unknowingly courageous. For them,. I imagine it's like, "Well, what else is there? I'm here to be myself." She inspired me to go back to my beginning to endure my backpack dumping. If I didn't, I saw the prices that would be paid. It was painfully clear.
NPR reports that transgender and nonbinary people are three to six times more likely to be autistic. My daughter's gender was very clear to her once she got the words so I was puzzled at the additional internal signals I kept receiving being around her. It took me years to have the courage and ability to see more clearly. I kept reminding myself, "She is doing her job. She's being herself. Where is my responsibility here?"
This is when labels and language become necessary and life-saving. Learning that she is autistic was another gift added to the multi-faceted beauty of her. Even though I had spent years sifting through internalized transphobia and homophobia and was "comfortable" with that, and even operated to a degree of that I understood everything I needed to know, another responsibility added was to my human playlist: dump out my internalized ableism.
From Thrive Autism Coaching, "Ableism is the systemic, often unconscious, devaluation of individuals with disabilities based on a societal preference for typical abilities."
Being a parent to a transgender and autistic child has made me a better human. A kinder human, a more compassionate human. The greatest gift we can give to ourselves and to others is cultivating the ability to witness someone else. We are not here to judge, shame or dismiss anyone. The world is set up to favor a preset way of being human- white, cisgender, heterosexual, Christian, and the expectation that your mind communicates with others in a way that makes the majority feel comfortable.
But that's not the reality of human. You have to expand your heart. It's the only way out.
If I can do it, so can you.